Some people brought to Jesus a man who was deaf and could hardly talk, and they begged Jesus to place his hand on him. After he took him aside, away from the crowd, Jesus put his fingers into the man’s ears. Then he spit and touched the man’s tongue. He looked up to heaven and with a deep sigh said to him, “Ephphatha!” (which means “Be opened!”). At this, the man’s ears were opened, his tongue was loosened and he began to speak plainly. Mark 7:32–35
The Savior stands in our midst as a fighter for us. He sighs and looks up to the Father in heaven, and then he calls loudly, “Ephphatha! Be opened!” Perhaps this man who came to Jesus was timid about coming to him. He certainly would have been anxious when the Savior took him aside and touched him – not really understanding why Jesus did this. But then suddenly, with “Ephphatha!” his ears were opened and he could exclaim, “The news is true, Jesus is the Lord who can put an end to sin and suffering. I have experienced it. Praise and thanks be to God!”
Beloved, this “Ephphatha!” must be the conclusion of the history of our world. The Savior is even now busily at work, turning the gospel that we hear into deeds. But the Savior must also approach us personally, in secret, and in secret he must pray for us before his Father’s throne. And finally the great “Ephphatha!” will come; it will shake the whole world.
For the time being everything is hidden. The greater Jesus’ victories are, the more they take place in secret. The way this man was taken aside by the Savior is an example of how humankind as a whole will be taken aside by the Savior. Quietly, but with deep ardor, Jesus will bring humankind before his Father’s throne.
So we who are God’s priestly people must cast the sick at his feet. We must cry out to him, “Dear Savior, you are the Lord. We cannot bear it that so many people follow false gods, for we know that you alone are the Lord. So here we are. We will not leave you in peace, for you came to represent us before the heavenly Father in order to help us.” This is how we must implore him. It is our task as the church.
Oh, you dear ones, I am often very sad when I see so many Christians who no longer bring people to the Savior on account of their sins and their suffering. We must not allow the gates of heaven to close between sinners and the Savior. The gates must remain open for all who suffer, for all sick people. Were it not for this, I do not know whether I could believe the gospel.
Let this be firmly established within us; then we shall help toward the coming of “Ephphatha!” The greater our regard for the one who was crucified and rose from the dead, the greater will be the “Ephphatha!” in the final days –like when God said in the beginning, “Let there be light!” Yes, one day we shall hear, “Ephphatha! Be opened!”
Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt